There is no need to issue public debt

At the London event last week, I indicated that governments should not issue any public debt as the benefits of doing so are small relative to the large opportunity costs. The Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) position is that there is no particular necessity to match public deficits with debt-issuance for a currency-issuing government and deficits should be accompanied by monetary operations which we now call Overt Monetary Financing (OMF). Surprisingly there was some arguments by audience members that governments should continue to issue debt, largely, as I understand them, to provide a safe haven for workers to save for the future. So the idea is that we maintain the elaborate machinery that is associated with the public debt issuance just to provide a risk free asset that workers can use to park their hard-earned savings in. It is a strange argument given the massive opportunity costs associated with debt issuance. A far simpler solution is to exploit the currency-issuing capacity of the government to guarantee a publicly-owned National Saving Fund. No debt would be required.

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